Missouri legislators start year by attacking workers

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John Diehl
RTW – AGAIN! Incoming Missouri House Speaker John Diehl (R-Town and Country) says the Missouri Legislature will consider making Missouri a right-to-work state in 2015, just as Republicans in the Missouri legislature have tried to do that past two years. The difference this year is they have numbers in both the House and Senate to potentially make it happen.

House Speaker Diehl calls RTW ‘key,’ promises ‘robust discussion’ on anti-worker measure

By TIM ROWDEN

Editor

Jefferson City – Before Missouri legislators even took their seats this week for the start of 98th Regular Session, lawmakers pre-filed 15 bills aimed at attacking workers, weakening unions and lowering wages.

Of the 15 bills, five are right-to-work measures.

That’s no surprise, Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO said.

“The people who have insisted on this anti-worker stance and want to lower the wages of all Missourians are still there,” Louis said. “They were re-elected and they haven’t changed their positions.

“The good news is some of the freshman legislators on both sides of the aisle who were elected have had an open door policy with us in the past, and we are continuing to work with that and, hopefully, will continue to be successful in protecting Missouri’s workers and families.”

THE CHALLENGE AHEAD

It will be an uphill climb, but that’s nothing new.

Incoming House Speaker John Diehl (R-Town and Country) says the Missouri Legislature will consider making Missouri a right-to-work state in 2015, just as it did last year, and the year before that.

Missouri Capitol Inside
ANTI-WORKER BILLS: Missouri lawmakers have already filed 15 bills aimed at attacking workers, weakening unions and lowering wages.

The difference, this year, is the Republicans have the numbers in both the House and Senate to potentially make it happen.

Diehl was a guest last month on St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast, saying he planned to focus on the state’s economy and what he believes is the best way to improve it. Here’s some of what he had to say:

• COMPETE – “The state has some issues in being able to compete in attracting and retaining employers.”

• GOV'T ROLE – “I don’t think it’s the role of government to produce economic development….”

• FRIENDLY? – “The policies in the states that surround us (RTW states like Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee) are more friendly to business and have an environment that’s more open to starting a business, having a business relocate there and having a culture of entrepreneurialism.”

• TAXES – “I believe all things being equal, the lower your taxes are the more competitive you are.” (Tell that to Kansas.)

Diehl hemmed and hawed early in the podcast, but eventually said what he meant when veteran political reporter Jo Mannies asked him directly about RTW.

“We’ll have a very robust discussion on that,” Diehl said. “I think it’s a key thing for a lot of people. I think someday Missouri will be a RTW state. There’s a lot of states around us that are. It’s trending that way. If there’s a Republican Governor, it will be a right-to-work state.”

Here’s a look at the bills that are coming up this session:

HOUSE BILLS

HB 46 – Bill Lant (R-Pineville) – Requires the State Board of Mediation to conduct an election to certify the exclusive bargaining representatives of an appropriate collective bargaining units for certain public employees every two years.

HB 47 – Bill Lant (R-Pineville) – Specifies that all individuals shall be guaranteed the freedom to work without being required to join or pay dues to any labor organization.

This bill displays the same audacity as last year’s measure by alleging it provides “freedom to work.” Don’t be fooled; it is right-to-work and it is anti-freedom. Because right-to-work is about corporate servitude. In other words, wage slavery.

As George Lakoff, professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and author ofThe Political Mind, Moral Politics” and “Don't Think of an Elephant,” states these laws are “intended to destroy unions, or at least make them ineffective.”

By stating “simply that workers do not have to pay union dues to take a job – even if they get benefits previously negotiated by a union,” Lakoff says. “Most workers who don't have to pay dues won't pay, and that will defund the unions, killing them and taking away rights unions have fought hard for over generations.

“Without workers negotiating as a unified group,” Lakoff says, “corporations will not have to grant those union-created rights. Corporations will have take-it-or-leave-it power over individual workers. In short, this is corporate servitude: You do what you are told and take what you are offered.”

HB 48 – Bill Lant (R-Pineville) – Prohibits any public employee from being required to pay dues or other fees to a labor organization. (Again, right-to-work, corporate servitude.)

HB 69 – Bill Lant (R-Pineville) – Allows public bodies to opt out of prevailing wage laws for public works construction projects that are $750,000 or less.

HB 116 – Eric Burlison (R-Springfield) – Prohibits an employer from requiring a person to become a member of a labor organization as a condition or continuation of employment. (Third verse, same as the first. This is another right-to-work bill. Burlison also filed right-to-work legislation last session.)

HB 127 – Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) – Requires the State Board of Mediation to conduct an election to certify the exclusive bargaining representatives of an appropriate collective bargaining unit for certain public employees every two years. (Similar to HB 46.)

HJR 2 – Bill Lant (R-Pineville) – Proposes a constitutional amendment that specifies that all individuals shall be guaranteed the freedom to work without being required to join or pay dues to any labor organizations. (Right-to-work again. This measure would need to be approved by voters.)

HJR 3 – Bill Lant (R-Pineville) – Proposes a constitutional amendment that prohibits any public employees from being required to pay dues or other fees to a labor organization.

HB 159 – Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) – Prohibits any public employee from being required to pay dues or other fees to a labor organization.

HB 195 – Warren Love (R-Osceola) – Changes the laws regarding the prevailing hourly rate of wages in third class counties.

HB 286 – Bill White (R-Joplin) – Specifies that a person cannot be required to become or refrain from becoming a member of or paying dues to a labor organization as a condition or continuation of employment.

SENATE BILLS

SB 126 – Dan Brown (R-Rolla) – Requires the State Board of Mediation to conduct an election to certify the exclusive bargaining representatives of an appropriate collective bargaining unit for certain public employees every two years. (Same as HB 46 and HB 127.)

SB 127 – Dan Brown (R-Rolla) – Bars employers from requiring employees to engage in or cease engaging in certain labor practices. (Another approach to right-to-work.)

SB 128 – Dan Brown (R-Rolla) – Modifies prevailing wage laws and provisions relating to project labor agreements.

SB 129 – Dan Brown (R-Rolla) – Requires authorization for certain labor unions to use dues and fees to make political contributions and requires consent for withholding earnings from paychecks. (Paycheck deception.)

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